By PAT SANGIMINO
Special to The Telegram
NEWTON — Kole Schankie must find Fischer Field to his liking. Then again, so do his Madison teammates.
The Bulldogs repeated as Kansas' Eight-Man Division I champion Saturday by using a move-the-chains running attack to finish an unbeaten season with a 30-12 victory over South Gray.
Schankie figured big in the ground game, carrying 39 times for 235 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs, who scored on their first possession of the contest and were never really threatened.
"That's a big part of what we do," Schankie said. "We like to get off quickly. Once we get that momentum rolling our way, it's pretty tough to stop us."
It was Schankie's second straight big performance in the state title game. Last year, he carried 26 times for 260 yards as Madison captured the state crown with a victory over Hill City.
This contest lacked the drama of last year's 52-44 win, thanks to Madison's ability to control the line of scrimmage as well as the clock.
But South Gray did try to make things interesting in the second half by going to an unconventional weapon - at least for these Rebels. Going into Saturday's title game, South Gray had completed just six passes all season.
In the third quarter of Saturday's game, Rebels quarterback Wyatt Slaven completed four passes, two of which went for touchdowns, as South Gray drew to within four points, 16-12.
Madison "dictated that to us," said South Gray coach Jeff Blattner. "That is a big, strong team."
Down 16-0, Slavin found Coulter Croft on consecutive pass plays - one for 24 yards and the second for 34 yards, which accounted for South Gray's first points of the game.
Madison made its only mistake of the game two plays later, when quarterback Collin Kile dropped back to pass and was stripped of the football. Rebels defensive lineman Joe Carter fell on the football, giving South Gray the ball at the Madison 23-yard line.
Three plays later, Slaven launched another touchdown pass — this one a 17-yarder to Ronald Martens — and South Gray was very much in the game by employing a very unconventional strategy.
Blattner showed early that he intended to do what ever it took to give his team the chance to stick around against the defending state champion Bulldogs. He played for it - and moved the chains - on a fourth-and-two play from deep in South Gray territory one minute into the contest.
"It was one of those things — we came to win," he said. "You have to take calculated risks. You have to take calculated gambles."
Ultimately, the gambles weren't enough to overcome a solid Madison team. Following South Gray's third-quarter scoring barrage, the Bulldogs responded with an immediate touchdown — a 2-yarder by Schankie that made it 24-12 late in the quarter.
They added another score in the fourth on a 35-yard scoring strike from Kile, who entered the game with a sore throwing shoulder, to senior tight end Tanner Bybee.
"It's an amazing feeling to win two straight championships," Schankie said. "I couldn't picture it any better. It might be the best feeling in the world."
Blattner couldn't be too upset with a season that didn't see his Rebels lose until the final Saturday of the season.
"Sometimes you bite the dog," he said. "Sometimes, the dog bites you back."
The Rebels finished their best season since the school was consolidated in 1992 (Copeland and Montezuma) with an 11-1 record while Madison extended its winning streak to 26 games by finishing 13-0.
South Gray 0 0 12 0 -- 12
Madison 8 8 8 6 -- 30
M--Kole Schankie 3 run (Schankie run), :46.8
M--Collin Kyle 5 run (Schankie run), 2:47
SG--Coulter Croft 34 pass from Wyatt Slavin (pass failed), 8:23
SG--Martens 17 pass from Slavin (pass failed), 6:02
M--Schankie 2 run (Tanner Bybee pass from Kile), 2:54
M--Bybee 35 pass from Kile (run failed), 10:24
First downs 9 19
Yards rushing 109 269
Yards passing 105 51
C-A-I 4-8-0 2-4-0
Fum/Lost 1-0 1-1
Pen/Yards 2-15 0-0
Punts/Avg. 4-33.3 2-11.5
Rushing--South Gray: Croft 21-67, Slavin 19-41, Gallegos 2-1. Madison: Schankie 39-235, Kile 8-11, Williams 1-2, Bybee 3-21.
Passing--South Gray: Slavin 4-8-0--105 yards. Madison: Kile 2-4-0, 51 yards.
Receiving--South Gray: Gallegos 1-6, Croft 2-58, Martens 1-17. Madison: Smith 1-16, Bybee 1-35.